The center position isn’t what it used to be in the NBA. Oh sure, we have a handful of big guys manning the paint that can score down low, rebound, and defend. Guys like Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, and … um… is Kevin Garnett playing center now? Perhaps “handful” is a bit of an overstatement. The quality of players playing the traditional 5 position is lacking in the NBA. Nothing shows this more than the outlandish contracts being offered to a couple of restricted free agents.
The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly made a max contract offer of $58 million over 4 years to Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert. The Pacers do have the option of matching the offer thus retaining the restricted free agents rights.
While I do think Hibbert is a talented player, I don’t think he’s max contract good. He’s increased his numbers in each of his 4 seasons, and his 2011-12 numbers of 12.8 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, and 2.0 blocks per game are solid comparably speaking, they just wouldn’t have garnered top dollar back in the day.
Even more puzzling than the Blazers offer to Hibbert is the one made by the Houston Rockets to the back up center for the Chicago Bulls, Omer Asik. In 14.7 minutes per game last season, Asik averaged 3.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 1.0 bpg. He also increased his numbers in his 2 years in the NBA, but do those numbers scream out 3 years and $25 million to you?
Asik is a very good defensive center and he’s a tough rebounder, but his offensive game is limited to put backs. And he struggles with those. As a Bulls fan I’ve seen many of his games, and I could count on one hand the number of jumpers he’s taken. He doesn’t have a faceup game, he has no back to the basket game, but he will give good effort while on the floor. But is good effort worth $25 mill? I guess it is these days… as long as your over 7′ tall.